“No, no! Just say the line without the fake Transylvanian accent.”
I shook my head in disgust. Fifth wannabe today to try that Bela Lugosi shtick. Just give me one good vampire. That’s all I ask.
“But thiz iz how I sveak,” said the tall, deathly pale auditioner. He swept his black cape open and reached for me with thin, imploring hands. “I vould have you know I am truly a vampire from Transylvania.”
His half lunge almost had me backpedaling but I caught myself. I’m the director, after all. I’m supposed to intimidate the actors.
“Look, nice try,” I said, waving him off. “But you’re not what I’m looking for. Next,” I called to my assistant, Kelli, dismissing the goofball with plastic fangs.
I was already a week behind schedule for Vamps & Tramps and couldn’t find my lead. I’d extended my casting call twice. Offering more than Actors Guild minimum to tap a bigger pool of candidates would shoot my budget to hell. The downside of directing B grade movies.
“I implore you,” the man began.
“All right, that’s enough.” I’d been through this before. “I’m going to ask you to leave or I’m going to call security. Your choice, buddy.” I nodded to the door.
Bela straightened himself and frowned. In a cold, biting voice he said, “Mr. Director. I vill leave, but I assure you I vill not forget. Ve may soon meet again, and it vill be you who vill answer to me.” He punctuated that last sentence with a finger in my chest.
“Get him out of here,” I yelled to security. Lugosi just stood there glaring until two uniformed guards grabbed his arms and turned him around. As they escorted the lunatic from the room, he called back, “Give my regards to your vife!”
What the hell?
You waste my time on the set, that’s one thing. You bring my family into it, you’re flirting with a papa bear. I was livid, but “Next!” was all I could think to shout in response.
The rest of the day was a bust. A few more cheesy D-list actors found their way to the studio, but I’d seen enough. The Transylvanian had unnerved me, I admit. I told Kelli to wrap it up. She handed me the digital tape and I went to review the day’s auditions in a funk.
A few hours later I buzzed my assistant. “What do you make of this?” Kelli peered over my shoulder, tape rolling.
“Nothing. Camera’s recording, nobody’s there. Why?” She thought I’d reached the end of the wannabes.
“Just wait.” A few moments later, an average looking actor — no white face paint or blood-stained lips, thank goodness — stepped in front of the camera and performed his lines for all he was worth.
“Oh, yeah, I remember him. Jason Somebody. Came in after security bounced that creep.”
She wasn’t getting it.
“Yeah. Well, watch again.” I rewound the tape and started a bit earlier, just catching the end of some other average joe waxing eloquent. “This is right before the creep.”
Our Bela Lugosi should have been next. But the tape just kept rolling; no sound, nobody in the frame. Finally, my “No, no! Just say the line!” could be heard in the background. After a quick pause and blip, Jason Somebody arrived for his turn at stardom.
Kelli gave me that Is this for real? scowl. I nodded. “You better get home to Liz,” was all she said.
I didn’t need convincing. Grabbing my satchel, I let Kelli lock up and left the office. It was later than I realized. I’d rewatched the Transylvanian’s blank audition a dozen times before calling for Kelli’s input. It was now dark as I headed to the studio parking lot.
Nah, I kept telling myself. It’s your high blood pressure, buddy. Nothing to worry about. Nevertheless, I made the forty-five minute commute in thirty and pulled into our modest home’s driveway. I jog-stepped to the front door and took a deep breath. This is ridiculous. Another normal day. Everything’s fine. I let myself in and called, “Honey, I’m home.” I know, but I say it without thinking.
“Upstairs,” I heard her call. “Reading in bed. Hit the lights, please, when you’re done making yourself a drink. Oh, and Madam Poochie’s out.”
She sure knew my routine. See? Another normal day. I made myself a scotch and soda, checked the mail on the counter, let the Yorkie in and ushered her to her kennel (I’d won that battle long before — no dogs in bed!), and began turning off the lights. I climbed the stairs to our sanctuary.
I’d almost forgotten the weirdness at the studio by the time I entered the bedroom. Liz was sitting there, pillows propped up behind her, some murder mystery on her lap. I bent over and gave her a quick kiss.
“How were the auditions?” my wife asked.
“Horrendous,” I replied, cringing at the memory. “So many silly genre stereotypes — I laughed most of them off the set.”
“I vant to suck your blooood,” my wife teased.
“Exactly!” I chuckled, not really amused.
“No, really. I vant to suck your blooood,” she persisted, and suddenly my partner of seven years rose up and took a go at my neck.
“What the hell?” I pushed her off me and wiped at my face and ear, a dark red streak on my palm. “Dammit, you actually bit me. What were you — ?”
Just then the door to our bathroom opened and the vampire from the studio entered. I collapsed into the chair beside our bed and stared, wide-eyed, open-mouthed.
“Mr. Director. I said ve vould meet again.”
I turned to face my wife… who wasn’t exactly my wife anymore. There was something —
“Ahhh!” I cried as she again attacked my neck. This time I could not push free.
“You veren’t the only vone holding auditions today,” the vampire said, as I joined them in eternity.
Lyndon Perry is a Middle School Language Arts teacher trying to teach his students to read and write a broad range of speculative fiction. Right now they’re into paranormal romance. Oh the shame.